With the forthcoming launch of its new Genesis luxury brand, Hyundai has chosen not to do battle with the European luxury brands in their home markets – at least not at the outset.
But they have brought a leading designer of some of those brands onboard.
“Luc Donckerwolke will join Hyundai in the first half of next year, as part of our efforts to further strengthen our design,” a Hyundai spokesman tells WardsAuto. He will lead the South Korean automaker’s prestige design division and develop a design unique to the Genesis brand.
Donckerwolke, officially joining the company in mid-2016 although possibly on the payroll now per rumors, is the charismatic and feisty designer who indignantly slammed the Lincoln Continental as an apparent Bentley knockoff at the New York auto show this year when he led that brand for the VW Group.
A veteran designer who spent 29 years with VW Group and had headed the Bentley brand, he reportedly broke with the group in June. He was responsible there not just for Bentley models but before that for head-turners such as the Audi R8 Le Mans and Lamborghini Murcielago and Gallardo models.
Using language bandied at the news conference the spokesman says Genesis styling will “combine the elegance of movement with an explosion of energy in a style we call ‘Athletic Elegance.’ Through athletic elegance in design, Genesis cars exude confidence and originality.”
Pricing of the six forthcoming models under the new Genesis marque will be set at a reasonable level, he says without offering specifics.
There is no indication yet which Hyundai plants will produce the vehicles, but presumably all will be manufactured in South Korea as luxury export models – while also defending itself against the relentless attack by Germany’s upper-scale brands that have eaten into domestic sales.
No technical details are divulged, including whether the line will use engines available on sibling Hyundai platforms.
Hyundai Vice Chairman Euisun Chung reveals no photos or prototypes of any of the planned Genesis offerings at a press conference in Seoul announcing the brand.
Six new vehicles will be developed for the brand, and two are in hand; a large luxury sedan designated EQ 900 in Korea and G90 in the U.S. and other markets, and a mid-luxury G80 sedan.
The EQ 900/G90 is the new version of Hyundai’s highest fullsize luxury offering, the Equus, and the G80 is the replacement for the current Genesis model.
Four new vehicles are under development, with a luxury compact sedan slated for 2017, followed by luxury models of a midsize CUV, sports coupe and an SUV.
All six models are rear-wheel-drive vehicles.
In the mid- to long term, Chung says a split in Hyundai and Genesis sales and service operations is coming as a separate business entity evolves, but Hyundai is in “no rush” to finalize it.
The EQ 900 version of the G90 will launch in Korea in December, followed by the U.S., China and developing markets early in 2016.